About the Northeast Alliance for Rail
The Northeast Alliance for Rail (N.E.A.R.) is a coalition of more than 50 of the Northeast's leading business, civic, and planning groups established to promote improved passenger rail service in the Northeast Megaregion, from southern Maine to northern Virginia - the nation's largest, densest, and most economically productive urban area. The Northeast Corridor is the backbone of the Northeast's transportation network, connecting all of the largest cities from Boston to Washington, D.C. with commuter and intercity passenger rail services that carry over a quarter of a billion annual passengers. However, much of the corridor has reached its full capacity and its infrastructure is old, leaving it unable to support future ridership growth.
NEAR aims to bring the region's political influence and intellectual resources together to address the threat to our economic prosperity posed by worsening train congestion and the deterioration of the Northeast Corridor's infrastructure. To this end, NEAR works to advance critical passenger rail projects that will improve safety and reliability, reduce train congestion and trip times between major urban hubs, making it more attractive to do business in the Northeast.
The Northeast Alliance for Rail champions a set of railroad policy initiatives that will increase the global economic competitiveness of the Northeast. The efficient flow of people, goods, and services, a fundamental aspect of the region's economy, is only as effective as the transportation infrastructure that facilitates it. For this reason, the Northeast Alliance believes major investments in the region's transportation systems, including significant expansion of capacity on our passenger rail network, should be at the heart of a regional economic development strategy. Our region's existing highways, runways, and railways simply will not be able to handle the travel demands of the region's growing population and economy. The Northeast will need to upgrade existing rail infrastructure and build new infrastructure, such as high-speed rail, to meet the mobility needs of the region's next generation of residents, workers, and visitors.
The Northeast Alliance seeks to secure the funding necessary to achieve a state of good repair, remove key bottlenecks on the Northeast Corridor to meet projected growth in travel demand on the existing passenger rail network, as well as advance a new, world-class, high-speed rail service, which will help unlock the future economic growth of the megaregion.
NEAR's specific policy objectives include:
- Maximize funding for improvements to passenger rail infrastructure and operations in the Northeast Megaregion.
- Increase funding for the Federal Railroad Administration's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
- Ensure that the Northeast Corridor multi-state planning and environmental review process considers several true high-speed rail alternatives.
- Work with the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure & Operations Advisory Commission to craft the long-term vision for the Northeast Corridor.
Click here for a more detailed description of our advocacy objectives and news about the Northeast Alliance's advocacy initiatives.
Click here to learn more about the Northeast Alliance's plans to improve the Northeast Corridor in the report, "Northeast Corridor Now."
To pursue its objectives, the Northeast Alliance seeks to influence legislation on the local and federal level by mobilizing leaders of the business community to target key decision makers in the Northeast. NEAR regularly releases position statements on important issues affecting passenger rail in the Northeast, sends advocacy letters to legislators about pertinent federal appropriations or other legislative activities, and meets with regional leaders to advance its objectives in Congress. NEAR also organizes public events and presentations with leading business, civic, and planning group in the Northeast, and speaks to relevant media outlets to deliver its messages to the public and raise awareness about its advocacy initiatives and objectives.
The Northeast Alliance is staffed by Regional Plan Association, which organizes regular meetings and conference calls to review policy positions and discuss advocacy strategy, manages advocacy campaigns, and maintains the mailing list and sends out periodic email updates about relevant topics and ongoing advocacy efforts to keep members informed about our activities and important passenger rail issues in the Northeast. To join the mailing list, enter your contact information in the upper right-hand corner of this website. RPA also manages this website, which provides useful information, news articles, action alerts, and opinion pieces. If you would like to participate in these calls, please feel free to contact us for more information.
Since its start, the Northeast Alliance for Rail has been effective at pressing Congress to fund state of good repair needs on the Northeast Corridor by passing new legislation or through the appropriations process, and getting the U.S. DOT to direct federal high-speed rail funds to the Northeast Corridor. Key accomplishments include:
PRIIA Legislation - The Northeast Alliance's first major achievement was the passage of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. The PRIIA legislation authorized $13 billion for Amtrak, including $5 billion for state of good repair projects on the Northeast Corridor, and enabled the creation of the Federal Railroad Administration's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. The Northeast Alliance successfully advocated for this legislation and held numerous events with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to support its passage.
Annual Appropriations - The Northeast Alliance has played an influential role in securing the federal appropriations for passenger rail, despite repeated attempts by Congress to strip rail funding away. Through direct advocacy and public education, the Northeast Alliance has worked to maximize funding for rail in annual spending bills. Amtrak owns the majority of the rail infrastructure in the Northeast and operates all of the intercity trains. So, Amtrak's capital and operating budgets are currently the main avenues for directing federal funding toward intercity passenger rail infrastructure and service in the Northeast. The Federal Railroad Administration's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program is another channel for investing in the Northeast Corridor and branch line infrastructure.
Northeast Corridor High-Speed Designation - In 2011, the Northeast Alliance helped secure the Northeast Corridor's official federal designation as a High-Speed Rail Corridor, making Amtrak eligible for funding through the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. As part of this effort, the Northeast Alliance contacted legislators and testified at a House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Field Hearing on High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor. After its designation, the Northeast Corridor was awarded $795 million in grants in May 2011.
Join the Northeast Alliance for Rail
A strong coalition of business leaders is a powerful voice in convincing Congress that we need to invest in high-speed rail in the Northeast. Joining the Northeast Alliance for Rail will help us achieve our common goal of upgrading passenger rail infrastructure in order to make the Northeast a more attractive place to do business.
Joining the Northeast Alliance involves:
- Supporting the work plan,
- Participating in the high-speed rail debate,
- Contacting your legislators and the media, and
- Spreading the word to colleagues, partners, and friends.
The Northeast Alliance welcomes all private companies, chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, and other economic development and planning groups who support our goals and advocacy objectives to become a member of the coalition. If your organization is interested in joining, please contact the manager of the Northeast Alliance, Dan Schned at firstname.lastname@example.org or (917) 546-4307.
Join the Northeast Alliance for Rail Today!